Scottish GPs and primary care staff get access to free occupational health service

GPs and practice staff in Scotland have been given access to a new, free occupational health service, the Scottish Government has said.

The move means that, from the end of October, anyone working for a GP practice has access to their local health board’s occupational health services free of charge.

Health secretary Shona Robison said the service will be backed by £920,000 of funding, which will be provided on a recurring basis.

“This additional funding will mean that our GP practice staff will be able to benefit from more effective occupational health. Working in GP surgeries has its challenges and so it’s quite right that these valued members of the NHS family are able to take full advantage of these services. It will also help us to create a more sustainable workforce in the long term,” she said.

The service means primary care employees have access to a range of specialists, including occupational health nurse practitioners, physiotherapists, consultants and specialist registrars, she added.

Dr Alan McDevitt, chairman of the British Medical Association’s Scottish GP committee, welcomed the move: “Measures that provide continued support to practices are very welcome and I am delighted that the Scottish Government has committed recurring funding to ensure that all our staff will have free access to the occupational health service.”

The introduction of the new service comes after last year’s decision by Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, to set up a nationally-specified occupational health service for GPs in England suffering from burnout and stress.

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